There are few topics in the hunting world that are more controversial than hunting black bears over bait. It is also quite possibly one of the most misunderstood subjects. Many hunters question the morality and degree of fair chase in this style of hunting. Unfortunately, many of them also take to social media to bash those who use it, forgetting that many times, the anti-hunting mafia are watching like hawks for any opportunity to turn hunters against each other and gather that ammo to further their fight. In order to hopefully shed a different light on the subject and try to see it from a different angle, let’s look at some of the most discussed aspects of baiting.
Probably the most scrutinizing argument against baiting is that it is not fair chase due to using food, placed by man, to attract game.
Many hunters believe that this is not necessary and takes advantage of the natural tendencies of the bear to eat available food. However, when you compare it to tactics used to hunt America’s most common game animal, the white-tailed deer is it really that different? Whitetail hunters throughout the country harvest thousands of deer each season over agricultural fields or more specifically food plots placed with the intention of using them to attract and hold deer.
When a bear bait is placed in the woods, it is done so with the same intentions. Bears often live in some of the most rugged, thick and wild country on the planet. Hunting them by strictly spot and stalk is just not an option in many places. Take for instance many parts of Canada. I recently went on a baited hunt in northern Alberta. At ground level, the visibility into the brush was usually less than 50 yards. This would make bears nearly impossible to find. However, by using bait, we were able to draw multiple bears around the area to a specific spot and therefore allowed me to be selective in my harvest. In seven days of hunting, I saw 47 different bears, without the use of bait that would have never happened.
The next argument against baiting is that it creates an unfair advantage to the hunter.
For those simply looking to harvest any bear, that may be true to a certain extent. However, for those looking to selectively harvest a mature boar, it creates the best environment possible to evaluate multiple bears and only take the older, male bears. If you really think about creating advantages we use to harvest game you can see that many of them are used for the same purpose; to harvest game legally, according to a management strategy and with a quick, clean harvest. Magnification scopes, blinds, tree stands, food plots, game calls, etc. are all man-made tools used to better harvest game. They all take advantage of natural tendencies of game such as their need to eat, breed and flee from danger. Hunting bears using bait is no different. It is simply a tool to try to accomplish a clean, desired harvest.
There are many advantages that hunting with bait has over other bear hunting methods.
As with many game animals, much of the management strategy is based on the harvest of mature male animals. When observing bears at a bait site, the hunter is usually given plenty of time to evaluate the bears to be sure they are taking adult boars. Sows with cubs often times do not have the young ones right next to them and by using bait, you are able to keep the bear in one place for an extended amount of time in order to be sure that no cubs are nearby. By keeping the bear occupied at a site, you are also able to settle your nerves and wait for a good opportunity to make a clean shot. When hunting using spot and stalk, especially with archery equipment, sometimes that is not possible.
I have been fortunate to harvest a number of black bears using numerous methods in both the U.S. and Canada and each one provides its own exciting thrills. Regardless of one’s personal opinions on baiting, we as hunters must stand together and be aware of the environment in which we share our thoughts. Social media is littered with anti-hunters who would like nothing more than to drive us apart and shut down any part of our sport that they can. It is crucial that we do not let them divide us as hunters. When looked at openly, hunting over bait is nothing more than another strategy and one of the most effective and conservational ways to hunt black bears.